content-producing machine

We all know that amazing content is essential to success in digital marketing today — especially when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). The problem for most people is finding the time to create it.

Many of us already feel maxed out, kept busy running our business and serving customers, so it’s difficult to find enough time to produce amazing content. And most find it nearly impossible to find enough time to produce lots of it. Does that describe you?

I’ll share a little secret: At one point, that described me, too.

Today, however, in addition to writing about digital marketing on my own blog and on two sites covering SEO, I contribute to two publications for the construction industry, and I guest post frequently on a variety of other websites. So I think it’s safe to say I’ve become quite efficient at it.

Now I’m going to share the techniques I’ve used to become ruthlessly efficient at producing tons of amazing content. This will help you to create brand awareness and organic search traffic, not to mention the kind of authority status that makes it easier to earn those juicy links that really move the needle on your ranking.

1. Plan ahead

If you want to efficiently produce a ton of amazing content that moves you toward your strategic goals, then you’ll need a plan, because contrary to what most people think, we really don’t work better under pressure.

At Spartan Media, the digital marketing agency I run, we have a planning process that is critical both to our success and the success of our clients. We start by identifying strategic goals, and then determining the best tactics to achieve those goals. Next, we plan and schedule the content development necessary to execute those tactics for the next six to 12 months.

Some people might feel that this kind of structure could stifle their creativity, but I don’t. In fact, I find it lets you get into a flow state, which helps you come up with more ideas for great content. Plus, with the stress of continually coming up with new ideas off your shoulders, your mind will be free to come up with new creative ideas along the way, which you can either insert into the workflow or save for later.

Another advantage to planning is that it lets us hint at future content and provides opportunities to link back to previous content, so we get more traction out of everything we produce. And because it’s all planned out, we’re never left scrambling at the last minute to come up with ideas.

If you want to take this a step further, you can even use a project management system like Basecamp or Teamwork to schedule all of the work associated with the content you have planned. This helps you manage everything effectively, and, if you’re working with a team, provides a rock-solid system for accountability.

2. Batch content production phases

Speaking of flow state, you can apply the same principal to producing your content. Many of us (myself included) have a tendency to edit while we’re writing, but that’s a terribly inefficient way to produce content.

You’re far better off breaking content production into three phases:

  • Outline
  • Produce
  • Edit

Outline

I’ve found that the most efficient way to produce a piece of content quickly is first to create an outline, which transforms that rough concept floating around in your head into a structured document to organize before you begin to write.

This helps keep your thoughts on track and reduces time and energy wasted on wild tangents. You don’t have to get overly complicated here — I usually just create a series of subheadings.

Produce

Next, begin writing under those subheadings, but resist the urge to edit as you go. Ignore typos and poorly worded sentences for now, and instead, approach it more like a brain dump, just seeking to get your thoughts onto the screen.

Once I’ve completed the content for my subheadings, I go back and write an intro and conclusion. Writing these at the end, rather than linearly, means they will be more cohesive and will segue more smoothly.

Edit (and tune out distractions)

Finally, edit your post — ideally, after taking a break from it for a while.

When I design or code, I typically have music or television playing in the background, but when I write, I eliminate any distractions. I close unnecessary windows, log out of social media, close my door, and I even play white noise — usually rain, rather than music, to help prevent my mind from wandering as I get into my flow.

3. Collaborate

Collaboration can be employed for any category of content, and it also helps to reduce your workload, resulting in more content for you and exposure for your collaborators, so it’s a win-win.

Some examples of collaborative content might include:

  • interviews
  • quotes
  • point/counterpoint
  • roundups

The idea is to approach collaboration not just as “free content,” but rather from the perspective of adding unique value to your audience and making it worthwhile for your partners in content creation. This should include linking to your collaborators’ websites and social profiles, sharing the content on social media, and potentially even promoting it via paid ads.

If you do this well, your collaborators will probably be eager to work with you again in the future, will share the content with their audience, will link to it from their own websites, and maybe even introduce you to other people in their circle who may be worth working with.

If you’re unsure how to find partners to collaborate with and convince them to invest their time, I suggest you check out my recent article on the role of traditional public relations in SEO.

4. Repurpose

That awesome blog post you wrote that everyone loved doesn’t have to solely be a blog post — you can repurpose it into a video or podcast, or even rewrite it as a guest post on other websites.

I did exactly this when I wrote a guest post titled, “How Even Great Web Designers Can Kill SEO,” which we then turned into an interview on Webcology, which I then further expanded on in another guest post titled, “10 Dangerous Web Design Mistakes That Destroy SEO.”

That’s three pieces of amazing content on three different authoritative publications, and I haven’t even touched video with this one yet. I could easily repurpose this piece every month for the next year without wearing it out.

The key here is to make it unique each time, tailoring it to the audience of the publication where it’s appearing. It’s also important to let some time elapse between publication dates, because if it’s used too frequently or in too many places, it will look spammy; and if links are involved (as in the case of guest posting), it is likely to be viewed as unnatural linking.

We talked about planning earlier — if you’ve done that, you can produce blog posts according to your schedule, and simultaneously produce guest posts, videos or podcast episodes starting at the end of your schedule and working your way back, so that there isn’t any overlap.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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